Cretan Food & Drink

The Cretan food is a solid, basic and healthy cuisine, reports from the world health organization shows that Cretan diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Cretan’s love to eat out, so rule of thumb is if you see the locals dining at a restaurant, you can be sure that the food is good. By law all eating place have to display the menu and prices.

Where to eat?

Tavernas
Traditionally a taverna is a basic eating place, though some are of a better standard in the tourist areas. Don’t be surprised if you are shown into the kitchen, to see the food being prepared, this is quite normal.

Kafenia
Mainly used by the local men of the town or village, here they sit and discuss politics and the state of the world, or play tavli (backgammon) and cards. The kafeneia is usually a very basic places, old tables, chairs and thick with cigarette smoke. Women in the rural ares never go into these places.

Psitarias
Specialise in grilled food, lamb, pork and chicken.

Restaurants
Vary in quality, but normally quite good, smartly dressed waiters serve you and menus have English translations.

Zaharoplasteia
Is a Cake shop selling local and European cakes, the also sell coffee and soft drinks, some have a small seating area.

Galaktopoleia
This is a shop that sells dairy produce; it may also sell bread and home made ice cream. Usually they also have a small seating area.

Ouzeri
An ouzeri serves ouzo (The Greek national drink) or Rakì (Cretan moonshine) together with small snacks, such as feta cheese, olives and pickled octopus.

Fast food
The usual fast food stores have found their way to Crete, nothing worth writing about those. Try the local fast food such as: Gyros, grilled meat served with salad and dressing packed in pita bread. Souvlaki , small meat on a stick served in the same way as gyros.

Foreign cusine
Cater mainly for the tourist and for the younger generation, Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Indian restaurants can be found in the towns.

Breakfast
The Cretan usually start the day with a coffee and a cake for breakfast, sometimes eaten at home or at one of the many cafes that open early. Many of the hotels serve a continental breakfast; some also serve English breakfast (bacon and eggs)

Lunch
Eaten between 1pm and 3pm usually a snack though sometimes a full meal.

Dinner
This meal can be served as late as 9 pm and usually comprise of two coursers. Meals taken in tourist hotels are often served earlier.

Snacks
Pretzel rings, nut and dried seeda are favourite snack for the Cretans, and are sold by street vendors. Other favourite snack include, cheese pie (tyropitta) and (bougatsa) a cheese filled
Pastry, (spankopitta) spinach pie.

Specialities

You can read in WikiPedia the List of Greek Dishes

Dakos: is a barley rusk softened in water then soaked in oil and tomato

Stifado: a stew made from the rabbit or lamb

Horta: wild greens picked in the hills and made into a vegetable dish.

Snails: prepared in a variety of ways

Cheese: Myzithra a sweet cheese

Graviera : a yellow cheese made from the ship milk.

Mezedes: Small appetisers a variety of small dishes served prior to the main meal.

Taramòsalata: Fish roe dip. Tzatziki: yogurt, cucumber, garlic dip
Kalamària: squid
Dolmades: stuffed wine leaves
Loukanika: small sausages
Bourekaki: small meat pie

Plus many more, mezedes can also be eaten as a main course, ask for a Pikilìa which is a serving of a variety of mezedes on a plate.

Soups

  • Psarosoupa: fish and vegetable soup
  • Fasolada: a filling bean soup
  • Avgolemona soupa: egg and lemon soup
  • Mayiritsa: a traditional soup made from offal, eaten mainly at easter.

Salads

  • Horiatiki salata: Village salad consists of peppers, olives, onions, tomatoes and feta cheese, olive oil and lemon dressing or vinegar.
  • Tomato Salad: consists of tomatoes, onions, cucumber and olives. A salad served with bread and is a light and refreshing meal in the summer.

Main Courses

This is just a few of the main courses; there are many more meat and fish dishes to try:

  • Mousaka: eggplant layered with minced meat, potatoes covered in a cheese sauce and baked.
  • Giouvetsi: lamb or veal casserole with pasta.
  • Soutzoukakia: spicy meet balls in a tomato sauce.
  • Loukanika: spicy sausage served with rice or potato.

Drinks

Tea and coffee, Greek coffee is served in small cup without milk and is quite strong. The most popular is Nescafe. In the summer try Frapè, Nescafe served chilled with or without milk or sugar. Frapè is a refreshing drink in the heat of the summer.
Tea is not a choice of the Greeks, but can be bought.
Camomile tea, mountain tea

Soft drinks
The usual soft drinks can be bought here in cans and bottles.

Water is safe to drink from the tap, but if you prefer to drink bottled water, it is available in the shops and restaurants.

Milk: In the rural areas can be hard to find, but in the towns it is not a problem.

Beer
You can buy most of the European beers in Crete. But try the local beer Mythos, not as sweet as the European beers, but rather nice.

Wine
Wine has been produced on Crete for about 3000 years; the quality can be to the experts uneven. The best brands come from areas of Peza (Heraklion), Sitia, Dafnes and Arhanes. Try the house wines served in restaurants, (kokkino) red wine, (leko) with wine, (roze) rose, these are served in carafes and are usually cheaper than bottled wines. Try also out the popular local Retsina, Greek white wine, a perfect choice with seafood.

Spirits
The most popular spirit drunk in Crete is Raki, moonshine made from the stems of the grape vine. It is important to eat and drink a glass of water when drinking Raki, do not mix with other alcoholic drinks, this way you will avoid the worst of a hangover.

Ouzo is known as the Greek national spirit, but the Cretans prefer to drink their local Raki. Visit a local Kafeneio or ouzeri, and try out the traditional way of drinking Raki or ouzo, served with all plate with cheese, olives, tomato’s, octopus.

Ouzo is mainly a tourist drink an also must be drunk with water and something to eat. Most major brands of spirits are available in shops (Cava), and bars.

The Greek brandy Metaxa is also very popular among the tourist. Metxa is available in 3-5-7 stars.

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